The people who shaped fashion and beauty this year
For fashion and beauty companies, and everyone else, 2021 was another rollercoaster of a year. It presented obstacles and roadblocks and forced the uprooting of reliable systems. But at the same time, it revealed unexpected opportunities and worked to separate true leaders from the pack. For those brands and retailers, their ability to lean into new consumer behaviors or the current zeitgeist was dependent on the people working behind the scenes. They moved swiftly, made smart decisions, and rallied their colleagues to reach goals with meaningful ripple effects.
Direct-to-consumer brands moved further into traditional-brand territory, streetwear and luxury became increasingly intertwined, and wellness’s impact on beauty became apparent industrywide. At the same time, widespread movements toward authenticity, transparency, sustainability and diversity took shape, forcing strategic updates across departments, at brands across the board.
The Thought Leaders
all rights reserved Glossy 2020
This list celebrates those insiders who rose to the challenge. Meet the 2021 Glossy 50. Our fifth annual group of honorees includes a gaming executive who brought luxury brands into the accelerated digital world, beauty brand leaders who joined forces to meet consumers where they shop and a pool of founders who successfully answered the new conscious consumers’ stringent demands. They beat the odds, in that they can chalk up the year as a success. And now, they provide insight into fashion’s and beauty’s new directions.
To attempt to prepare for 2022, take note.
Explore the full Glossy 50 list by clicking the categories below.
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Coming out of 2020, the makeup category continued to see challenges. But clean color cosmetics brand Ilia remained resilient and bucked the downturn, and CEO Lynda Berkowitz’s leadership was a key factor.
Read more here
The Estée Lauder Companies’ Jane Hertzmark Hudis can count many wins in 2021, including the global growth and strong performance of La Mer and hair care. Additionally, new partnerships have led ELC brands to offer a fresh take on beauty.
Executive group president, The Estée Lauder Companies
After years of slow and steady growth, 2021 marked a turning point for Vuori: It tripled its revenue in the last 12 months, and in October, it received a $400 million investment from Japanese holding company SoftBank.
Founder & CEO
Within five years of launching, sneaker resale platform GOAT has become one of the biggest companies in the streetwear world. This year, Eddy Lu shepherded the company through an immense growth phase, doubling its valuation to $3.7 billion.
& CEO, GOAT
In June, Tara Poseley oversaw Paula Choice’s acquisition by Unilever. Also this year, she widened the brand’s retail presence into Sephora in the U.S. and Douglas in Germany, with plans to expand into more countries.
Paula's Choice Skincare
Cetaphil currently ranks as a top Gen-Z skin-care brand. At the helm of its success is June Risser, who also oversees adapalene acne brand Differin. This year, she pushed both brands to experiment with digital media, which catapulted their growth.
Vp & gm of consumer care business, Galderma
Lulus has made a strong recovery from the pandemic lows of 2020. The company owes much of that to smart marketing decisions, made by Noelle Sadler. When Sadler became CMO in 2020, she moved fast to make
With the largest chunk of Olaplex’s business coming from the professional channel, the brand had to make big changes to adapt to salon closures during the pandemic. JuE Wong quickly implemented an omnichannel strategy that’s paid off.
President & CEO
Jens Grede is building his own fashion conglomerate composed of growing contemporary brands co-founded by pop culture’s biggest names: Altogether, Frame, Skims, Good American and, now, Tom Brady's Brady are set to do more than $600 million in revenue this year.
Co-founder, Frame, Skims,
Good American & Brady
This year, with Myles McCormick steering the ship, Morphe parent company Forma Brands saw the launch of Ariana Grande’s R.E.M Beauty, continued its adaptation to a Gen Z audience, and entered multiple new categories.
Amyris Inc. became a breakout star of 2021, thanks to its brand launches and acquisition strategy. For example, it introduced Rose Inc. and JVN Haircare, by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jonathan Van Ness, respectively. The visionary behind this is John Melo.
Laura Belmond is behind the Jeans Redesign Project. By May 2021, over 70 brands, retailers, fabric mills and manufacturers had collectively put over half a million pairs of circular jeans on the market.
Lead at Make Fashion Circular, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Even before publishing her book “Consumed,” about society’s relationship with consumption and sustainability, in September, Aja Barber was a leader in the move to a more sustainable fashion industry.
Over the last 12-months, Versed launched a popular TikTok series, became climate-neutral certified, reformulated products to be more environmentally friendly and brought together over 100 beauty brands to call for federal action around climate change.
This year, Kendra Bracken-Ferguson expanded her BrainTrust consultancy with the launch of Founders Studio, an accelerator for Black-owned beauty and wellness founders. So far, 29 Black business owners, including those behind Brown Girl Jane and Underfined Beauty, have signed on.
Co-founder, BeautyUnited; founder, BrainTrust
Though best known as half of the team behind fashion label Public School, Dao-Yi Chow dedicated much of his time and energy in 2021 to rallying the fashion community, in the name of fueling the Stop Asian Hate movement.
managing partner, Public School
One year ago, Nyakio Grieco launched Thirteen Lune, the e-commerce platform focused on premium brands by a diverse range of founders. Already, the company is in the process of taking over Sephora’s spot at JCPenney.
Co-founder, Thirteen Lune; founder, Nyakio Beauty
Katherine Power recently co-founded the SPAC Powered Brands, focused on beauty and wellness brands. One of few female-founded SPACs, Powered Brands raised over $1.5 billion in orders before the end of its first pricing day.
CEO, Merit and Versed; co-founder, Avaline and Who What Wear
IMG Fashion Alliance, spearheaded by Leslie Russo, launched this year to offer emerging designers business support and financial assistance. In addition, it aims to shine a spotlight on NYFW and the designers who show there.
President of fashion
events & properties, IMG
With an aim to reinvent teen skin care, Shai Eisenman launched Bubble as a DTC brand in November 2020. Within two weeks, she was approached by “pretty much every large retailer in the country.” Bubble’s since entered 3,800 Walmart doors.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Marcia Kilgore said of her journey from identifying unfair practices in beauty and launching Beauty Pie to raising $100 million in September. The funding is working to boost the company’s inventory and community.
Ami Colé earned great buzz ahead of its June launch. That was not only because N’Diaye-Mbaye is a L'Oréal and Glossier alum, but also because it promised to be the no-makeup makeup brand that brown and Black customers have wanted.
Founder & CEO
In April, Mielle Organics leveled up its expansion with an undisclosed investment of over $100 million from private equity firm Berkshire Partners. This year, it has also more than doubled its annual sales and distribution.
CEO & co-founder
Hillary Taymour was at the forefront of the fashion world’s embrace of all things digital, including gaming and the metaverse. This year, she followed up Collina Strada's video game developed for Gucci’s Guccifest in November 2020 with more metaverse collaborations.
Founder & designer
Since launching in 2019, underwear brand Parade has clearly won over Gen Z. That's no doubt thanks to the way it leads with inclusivity, diversity and accessibility in its every move. It's now valued at $140 million.
Founder & CEO
According to Pharrell Williams, “the idea [of Humanrace] is to create products that are necessary, useful and beautiful to help guide our daily practice.” Most recently, it branched into body care. This came after it moved into apparel this summer.
Since gaining widespread attention in June 2020 for selling his brand’s signature tote with the words “End Systemic Racism” replacing the logo, Blackwood's success has skyrocketed. In the last year, his brand's sales have increased “50,000%,” he said.
CEO, designer & founder
Brandon Blackwood New York
Beauty shopping app Supergreat founder Tyler Faux is bullish on the future of livestream shopping. His platform onboards 6-8 official brand partners every month, with names such as Ulta Beauty, MAC Cosmetics and ColourPop among those joining in 2021.
Co-founder & CEO
Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova set out to enable digital-only clothes to exist through content. After a year of prototypes and research, they launched Dress X in June 2020 to bring digital fashion to consumers. It’s since taken off.
& Daria Shapovalova
The field of biomaterials has expanded over the years, with much of it gaining momentum during the pandemic. Mushroom leather, for one, is gaining in popularity among fashion brands, and MycoWorks is leading the charge.
& Tara Sinclair
Consumer products brand strategy & licensing lead, Netflix
In September of 2020, Marjorie Hernandez and Karinna Nobbs pooled their collective expertise to create The Dematerialised, a Web 3.0 digital department store for authenticated virtual goods. It's introduced womenswear, menswear and petwear, and is set to launch additional categories next year.
Marjorie Hernandez & Karinna Nobbs
Formerly the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, Aya Kanai brings her editorial eye to Pinterest. Since joining the company in September 2020, she has bolstered its beauty and fashion creator presence by driving a wave of new features.
Head of content & creator partnerships, Pinterest
Spurred by digital's acceleration, 20-year-old Alvanon's 3D virtual bodies program and Alvanon Body Platform have increasingly been embraced by fashion. The company now advises on fit and sizing strategies for more than 1,000 brands, from Stitch Fix to Chanel.
CEO & COO
Much like brands rushed to TikTok in 2020, this year, many set their sights on gaming. Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Pacsun looked to Roblox and its 40 million daily users, and Christina Wootton ensured their successful launch in the space.
Vp of brand partnerships
Knowing the power of tapping into pop culture, fashion brands from Hill House to Balmain increasingly sought out Netflix this year and inked strategic, product-focused partnerships centered on the platform's buzziest shows.
Once known for being exclusionary, the Abercrombie & Fitch of today touts a message that is essentially the polar opposite. Carey Krug is behind the new marketing, which encourages confidence and individuality -- and is resonating with Gen Z.
Svp of marketing
Abercrombie & Fitch
This year, KVD Beauty rebranded once again. To unveil the updated KVD and its biggest launch of 2021, the Good Apple foundation, a powerful marketing strategy was paramount. Tara Loftis took a big bet on TikTok and won.
Global vp, brand marketing & public relations, Kendo Beauty Group (LVMH)
Tinx never set out to be a beauty influencer, yet the products she loves frequently become cult favorites. So it’s no surprise that many brands inked partnerships with her this year. For example, in August, Kiehl’s introduced “The Tinx Edit.”
Tinx (Christina) Najjar
When Mikayla Nogueira posts about and approves a product, it rarely fails to go viral, receive press coverage and sell out. So this year, brands lined up to work with her — Glamlite released a collab with her in June.
In 2021, Walmart added 69 new beauty brands to its assortment -- a range spanning “indie brands, multicultural brands and brands [like Nou] that we built together with P&G,” said Musab Balbale, who’s leading the department’s evolution.
Merchandising vp of omnichannel beauty, Walmart
In 2020, Mark Breitbard stepped into his current role of leading Gap’s global brand. The year that followed is proving to be one of the company’s most successful -- it earned $11 billion in revenue in the first three quarters.
President & CEO Gap Brand
In August, Lela Coffey led the debut of Gen-Z brand Nou, incubated exclusively for Walmart. Previously, Coffey led the development of My Black is Beautiful with Sally Beauty. In 2021, it expanded to Amazon and Target.com to be more accessible.
Vp of N.A. hair care & multi-cultural beauty, P&G Beauty
Dina Fierro has been instrumental in bringing Nars to the forefront of the digital world, especially within gaming. In 2021, Nars launched programs within Animal Crossing, sponsored Twitch influencers’ livestreams and worked with Zepeto to sell virtual makeup looks.
Vp of global digital strategy & social engagement, Nars
In December 2020, Kohl’s and Sephora inked a long-term partnership to open 200 Sephora stores within Kohl’s stores in 2021 and 850 by 2023. Michelle Gass said Sephora was her top choice when eying partners to evolve Kohl’s beauty experience.
Allbirds has stood out as a respected leader in sustainable fashion. According to Hana Kajimura, the brand’s secret is simple: Walk the walk and be transparent. This year, she introduced its "Flight Plan" to cut its per-unit carbon footprint.
Head of sustainability
For Old Navy, Alison Partridge Stickney made “inclusivity” a realization, rather than just a marketing buzzword. In August, she introduced Bodequality, making all the brand’s styles available -- at every sales channel and on every rack -- in sizes 0-30.
This year, AEO took a novel approach to overcoming shipping delays, heavily investing in supply chain infrastructure solutions. For example, in August, Michael Rempell led its acquisition of air logistics company AirTerra for an undisclosed sum.
Jean-André Rougeot has never been afraid of change. Case in point: Sephora’s new partnership with Kohl’s. Kohl’s beauty experience was nascent prior to Sephora coming along, but Rougeot saw the melding of the retailers as a step to growth.
At the helm of the Ulta Beauty-Target partnership is Kecia Steelman and Cassandra Jones. The twosome and their teams were responsible for ensuring that Ulta Beauty maintained its Ulta Beauty feel and that Target expanded its beauty footprint.
Global vp of women’s plus & maternity merchandising, Old Navy
Chief operating officer
President & CEO
& Cassandra Jones
Chief operating officer, Ulta Beauty;
Vp of beauty, Target